Chinese duck is a tasty way to serve duck, but it usually involves a long preparation and some specialty equipment; I wanted to see if I could create a Chinese crispy duck recipe without the wok.
Wok This Way
The usual and traditional way to prepare Chinese crispy duck takes what seems like forever. When I was in culinary school, we were taught the old school way to make this recipe. The duck was first marinated in a mixture of scallions, fresh ginger grated by hand, clove, star anise, cinnamon, cassia buds, and a slew of other ingredients that I could never find at the local market or, if I could, would probably never use again.
Once the duck had been marinated for a few hours, it would then be steamed for a few more hours. Then it would be seared in a wok. While the resulting duck was fabulous, I was sure I would never get a chance to make this at home. I mean, it's one thing to go to the market to buy one or two ingredients to make a special dinner, it's another thing entirely to start re-equipping your kitchen for one duck. There had to be a more reasonable way to cook a Chinese crispy duck and I was going to find it.
Simplified Chinese Crispy Duck Recipe
Other than the marinade, which would infuse your duck with the Asian flavor that you want for this recipe, the rest of the original recipe seemed over-complicated to me. Since cooking a whole duck involves pricking the skin to let the fat out, I figured that the punctures would also let the flavors in. I did want to get a very Asian flavor with my duck, so I picked up a small jar of Chinese five spice. Once I trimmed off the excess fat from the neck area and from inside the duck, I then rinsed the duck with warm water and made sure the duck was very dry. I used a skewer to prick the skin of the duck across the breast area and between the breast and thigh since this is where most of the fat is and we want to let it drain out. I then rubbed the Chinese five spice inside the duck to impart the Asian flavor I was looking for.
You can let the duck sit in the refrigerator for about four hours, but it would be best if you let it sit overnight. The longer you let the duck rest in the fridge, the crisper the skin will be once the duck is cooked. Like a goose, ducks have a thick layer of fat under their skin that we want to drain out or the skin will be greasy and rubbery, not crispy and tasty.
This recipe also calls for miso. I like to use a dark miso and use the leftover miso as a soup starter to the dinner.
- 1 5-pound duck
- 2 ounces of rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup of honey
- 1 tablespoon of grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon of miso
- 1 small onion quartered
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Rub the outside of the duck with salt and then sprinkle the pepper over the skin of the duck.
- Place the duck in a roasting pan with a rack. If your roasting pan is rather deep and the rack sits a good way off the bottom of the pan, you can just roast the duck as usual. If, however, your rack is very close to the bottom of the pan or you are cooking in a shallow pan (like a sheet pan), you will need to drain the fat out of the pan periodically, about every 30 minutes or so. By all means save this duck fat.
- Place the duck in the 425 degree oven for fifteen minutes.
- Then, turn the oven down to 350 degrees. We do this to crisp up the skin quickly.
- To make the glaze, combine the rice wine vinegar, honey, ginger, and miso in a saucepan.
- Bring to a boil while whisking.
- Once the glaze comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer until thick.
- After the duck has cooked for 45 minutes, brush it with the glaze.
- Glaze the duck about every 10 minutes until the duck is done.
- The duck will be done when your instant read thermometer reads 180 degrees.
- Enjoy with miso soup and serve with Chinese pancakes and hoisin sauce.